On a steamy final morning of training camp, the Patriots elected for a shorts-and-T-shirt walkthrough for their 27th overall practice of the preseason.
The Patriots will conclude training camp today with an afternoon session outside Gillette Stadium. Players were asked about reaching the so-called "end" of training camp after the morning practice and most joked that this is hardly the end (today's afternoon practice will simply end the portion of camp open to the public, there's plenty of sweltering sessions left for these Patriots before the regular season arrives).
Among the players drawing media crowds were wide receiver Wes Welker (Will he play Thursday? "That's up to Coach Belichick," said Welker, who noted he wanted to play), defensive end Richard Seymour (Who was asked his preference regarding 4-3 vs. 3-4 defense), and running back Laurence Maroney (Who was asked about having a reputation as being fragile given his injury history).
Trying our best to emulate colleague Mike Reiss (and leaning heavily on the keen observations of colleague Chris Gasper), here are a few nuggets from this morning's session, which was so hot, it seemed to keep many fans in their air-conditioned homes:
1) Two-minute tune-up. The Patriots launched practice with a healthy emphasis on the two-minute drill. Quarterback Tom Brady and the first-team offense worked on utilizing sideline routes and spiking the ball on routes over the middle to stop the clock before the kick team would run on the field to simulate a field goal attempt.
2) Special emphasis on special teams. The majority of the morning featured special team work, particularly with onside kicks and specialty kicks. Interesting to note that punter Chris Hanson, who was back on the field for the first time in a few practices, handled much of these specialty kicks in place of kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
3) No downtime for Brady. Just because the emphasis was on special teams, that didn't mean Brady was leashed to the sideline. Eagle-eyed Gasper spotted the franchise QB as part of one kick coverage squad.
4) No brace for Brady, either. As has been commonplace in walkthroughs, Tom Brady did not sport the knee brace he wears during full-pad sessions.
5) Return of Wes Welker. While his playing status for Thursday is uncertain, Welker logged quality time with the first-team offense during two-minute drills and worked with the punt return squad during special team drills.